Hi Sarabande! Likewise I am sure!! I’m trying to answer your quote, but don’t know how you get the schaded boxes!! So I hope that you can decipher this!..
I’m not completely sure, either, regarding Vivaldi’s music although I am fairly sure that some of this sacred music was originally written for girls’ voices at the girls orphanage of mostly illegitimate noblemen, that he was at for a number of years.
*Yes Vivaldi was at the orphange and wrote for his girls for sure. There is rep. for all ranges. But I don’t know if he had them singing in church. *
…Although a woman of good character could be respected as a professional instrumentalist and perform in public, that was still rare and most of the time, her father or husband would keep any revenue. For female singers, though, they were looked upon almost on the same rank as prostitutes for a time. (There are a couple really good books out on the history of singers and it really is horrible how the female singers were treated early on.)
Thanks for the tip!*
I was able to perform in one of the first early opera houses in Italy a few years back… it was like a doll house, built in the 1600s.
Many Baroque theaters were just “smaller”. At the Markgraefliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth the seats are really small. I think that the people were just smaller. But as you say on the inside it is gorgeous. The acoustics were kind of dry. I sang in a gastspiel of the Bayerisches Staatsoper in “Ariadne”, a Richard Strauss opera. I would have loved to hear you in Italy.
What I always found interesting was that even though the Church did not encourage the practice of castration, they still preferred having them sing in their choirs rather than using female voices.
No wonder! They sounded better, were more resilient, had more technique and musicianship (because they had studied for years longer), and were dependable (their voices didn’t change in a few years.) and a new treble would have to be found
I know that the Sistine Choir stopped using boys around the Renaissance once castrati became popular, but other churches in Europe were using boys for the treble voices. I would be interested in hearing that recording you have. I’ve only heard the recording of the last surviving castrato from about the same time. Unfortunately, the recording quality as well as his age, as castrati voices did not age well, does not give a complete and full appreciation of what those voices were capable of. I know that the computer generated voice in the movie “Farinelli” tried to simulate the voice, but I still don’t think it gives a real and complete picture of the sheer, absolute power and beauty of that voice.
*Again ditto. The simulation was interesting, but unsatisfying. I would have loved to hear one live too. I know the recording that you have. I believe that he was in his 60s when it was recorded. Remember that they had to sing into a funnel which recorded onto wax when you listen to your recording. Everyone sang into the funnel at the same time. Listen to the accompaniment and choir behind him and imagine using your acoustic memory of what the sound would be like now. *
What I would really be interested in hearing is a live, in-the-room performance of a choir made up of castrati and the tenor and bass voices. I think, as you mentioned, it would be quite different and give us a better understanding of what church music sounded like.
So many choirs try to make women simulate the natural, straight-tone voices of boys, while the men are still allowed to have a little vibrato.
Unfortunately a disordered approach attempting to artificially create an even sound.*
I would imagine that the castrati would have had a similar vibrato to the lower voiced male singers.
You can hear on the recording that he has a vibrato.*
Countertenors really don’t cut the mustard. I think most countertenors, save a few, are not that good.
*There are a number of really good counters out there. I sang in one of the International Haendel Festivals in Karlsruhe. Almost all of the pants roles were counters, one better than the other and all different. But as you said not all counters are of that caliber, just as not every regular singer is first class either. That is what was heartbreaking about the castrato phenomenon. Sometimes if a boy’s voice showed promise as a child, then perhaps his poor and/or greedy family members with the hopes of fame, fortune, and a better life would agree for castration. Having done that, it was not a guarantee that said boy would actually develop into a first class soloist later on. Many landed in the choirs and the visions of fame and fortune disappeared as mist in the morning. *
TO BE CONTINUED…